St. Augustine Grass Maintenance Calendar: Planting Guide

A member of the Poaceae family of grasses, St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is also referred to as buffalo turf in Australia and buffalo grass in South Africa. It is a warm-season lawn grass that is well-liked for growing in tropical and subtropical areas because of its propensity for weed control and outstanding drought resistance.

The majority of weeds and other grasses are crowded out by this medium- to high-maintenance grass, which grows into a thick, carpet-like sod. The grass grows on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, including Central and South America, Texas, Mexico, and much of the Southeast United States. It has evaded cultivation in South Africa, New Zealand, several Pacific islands, California, Hawaii, and other Pacific states.

How to Grow St. Augustine Grass in 6 Easy Steps

 Here are some pointers to make sure your lawn made of St. Augustine grass looks its best:

#1. Choose A Cultivar.

St. Augustine grass comes in a variety of cultivars, each with unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s crucial to pick the one that best meets your requirements. Given its high level of vibrancy and tough root structure, palmetto is possibly the most well-known. When compared to other varieties, the Raleigh cultivar endures cold weather particularly well. Floratam has broadleaf blades, whilst Seville is smaller and more slender. Consider your alternatives carefully and pick the one that best suits your needs since each has advantages and disadvantages.

#2. Verify the type of soil you have.

This grass is quite adaptable; however, it prefers sandy soil. Even at soil temperatures as low as 60 degrees, it will still grow well even though it prefers the heat. St. Augustine will flourish in a variety of soil types with a pH range of 5.0 to 8.5. Normal blooming seasons are spring and summer.

#3. Pick the appropriate Time.

Planting your grass in the early spring or summer is recommended since St. Augustine grass loves intense sunlight. If you begin your growing season well before the autumn and winter months become cooler, you’ll get the most out of it.

#4. Select the grass-planting strategy.

Avoid using grass seeds while growing your lawn in favor of several other, more efficient techniques. A St. Augustine grass requires more time to seed than other types of lawns. For extremely small areas of your yard, grass sprigs, sometimes called stolons, are grass stems with complete roots. But spreading some St. Augustine sod is your best option if you want to cover a large area. Grass plugs, which are tiny pieces of sod that have already been buried in soil and may be added to your lawn, offer a middle ground.

#5. Apply the proper fertilizer.

You can achieve great results by evenly applying high-nitrogen fertilizer to your St. Augustine grass. It’s best to choose some that also contain potassium and phosphorus in smaller amounts. Your lawn will become more lush and healthy if you fertilize it every few months during the spring and summer, whether you use granular or liquid fertilizer.

#6. Water sources.

Your objective should be to provide your grass with the ideal amount of water—you don’t want to leave it too wet or too dry. Giving a lawn of St. Augustine grass a half inch of water a couple of times each week is perfect.

Tips on Care for St. Augustine Grass

Although St. Augustine grass is minimal maintenance, it still needs regular maintenance to keep it at its best. How to take care of your lawn is shown here.

#1. Cut the grass properly. Compared to other grass kinds, St. Augustine grass requires less frequent mowing. To keep your lawn at a height of 3 to 4 inches, mow it once every one to two weeks. Maintaining a high mowing height makes it easier for the shade-tolerant turf to promote root growth. It also acts as a natural fertilizer to leave the clippings on your lawn, at least throughout the warmer months.

#2. Keep pests at bay. Chinch bugs, white grubs, mole crickets, and webworms are just a few of the pests that may attack the grass blades in your yard because of how this grass attracts them. While prevention through appropriate lawn care is always preferable, there are instances when using herbicides and insecticides is the only option.

#3. Get rid of weeds. Most weeds are crowded out by St. Augustine grass’ tough, dense texture, but you’ll still need to take action to get rid of them entirely from your lawn. If you notice crabgrass, fescue, or any other unwelcome guests, you may want to remove them by hand or, if you can do so without harming the rest of your lawn, by using a herbicide.

#4. Manage illnesses. Grey leaf spots and other fungal infections, such as those, can occasionally affect St. Augustine grass. By regularly watering and fertilizing your grass, you can keep this issue from occurring. Apply a fungicide if a disease should arise to stop it from getting worse.

St. Augustine Grass Lawn Maintenance Calendar

Here is a list of the schedule of agronomic activities to ensure the growth and better yield of the St. Augustine lawn grass.

January – MayMowingMow the lawn a little lower than you would normally in the summer. Don’t set the mower too low or you risk scalping the grass. To collect the clippings and get rid of the dead vegetation still present from the winter dormancy, if at all possible, use a mower with a bagger. Use a sharpened mower blade.
Weed controlApply a pre-emergent herbicide early in the year to reduce crabgrass, goose grass, sand spurs, and other summer annual weeds.  To get rid of any winter weeds that are already present, use a post-emergent herbicide. Post-emergent herbicides should generally not be used on lawns once the turf turns green. Certain herbicides, such as 2,4-D, can cause St. Augustine grass to become vulnerable, not only during the hot summer months but also during the spring green-up. 
Pest ControlIn the late spring, keep an eye out for chinch bugs and mole cricket activity as the weather begins to warm up. If either bug is seen, use a lawn insecticide when the damage gets out of hand.
IrrigationWater the lawn during dormancy to avoid severe dehydration. During dry winters, winter desiccation can be an issue. Winter turf loss can be prevented by watering to combat drought stress. Pests and other issues may be avoided or diminished with proper irrigation
Fertilizer ApplicationEarly spring fertilization that promotes fresh turf grass growth that is then followed by a late frost can cause substantial harm to the lawn
June – AugustMowingSame process as January – May
IrrigationSame process as January – May
Fertilizer ApplicationApply 1 pound of N per 1,000 square feet in July, and 1 pound of N per 1,000 square feet in June and August. Use a full (N-P-K) fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio if there hasn’t been a soil test.
Weed ControlUse post-emergence herbicides to eradicate summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds like lespedeza, spurge, and prostrate knotweed (annual or short-lived perennial). Because St. Augustine grass is susceptible to some herbicides (2,4-D), use caution and adhere to label guidelines.
ThatchingMow the grass to 212 inches tall and use a power rake with a 3-inch blade spacing if the thatch was 34 inches thick the previous summer.
Disease ControlActivity on large patches is probably minimal at this time. Grey leaf spots, however, can now appear on St. Augustine grass. Grey leaf spot rarely causes damage in North Carolina, but prolonged rain could cause a few small, uneven patches to appear. Small dots with grey centers and a dark purple or brown border will appear on affected leaves. 
September -NovemberMowingSame process as January – May
Fertilizer ApplicationAfter mid-September, St. Augustine grass is typically not fertilized. The rate in September should be no more than 1/2 pound N per 1,000 square feet.
IrrigationWhile the grass is actively growing and after the lawn goes dormant, water to minimize drought stress and excessive dehydration.
Pest managementUse lawn insecticides
Weed ControlPlan to administer a pre-emergence herbicide in the spring of next year if there is crabgrass and goose grass present.
Disease controlDuring this time, large patches frequently appear, especially under chilly, rainy conditions. The pathogen is most active in the autumn when soil temperatures drop to 80°F, but spring development can still be quite harmful. Application for preventive control in the autumn is essential for managing this condition. Starting when the soil temperature drops to 80°F, preventive fungicide applications should be made every month until the soil temperature falls to 60°F. There can be three applications in the autumn, depending on the weather.
December -FebruaryWateringEven if the lawn will be dormant during dry winters, a little bit of watering here and there could help.
Weed controlTo get rid of henbit and chickweed, use broadleaf herbicides. Because St. Augustine grass is susceptible to some post-emergence herbicides, notably 2,4-D, use it with caution and only as directed on the label. To suppress annual bluegrass and several winter annual broadleaf weeds, some herbicides like atrazine and simazine can be used in November or December.
St. Augustine Grass Maintenance Calendar

Final Notes

St. Augustine grass is best propagated vegetatively, it is usually grown from plugs, sprigs, or sod. The grass can reproduce on its own after being cultivated.  It thrives on nutrient-rich, well-drained soils. It can withstand shade quite well, salt and heat well, and drought just somewhat. Cold temperatures and high traffic are intolerable to it.

The majority of the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions have St. Augustine grass. Tropical climates are the best for growing it. It can frequently be found along shorelines, in lagoons and marshes, and in other places where there is a lot of moisture.

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